A quick search for Well-being

One of my Internet non-profit initiatives is OneGoodWorld.org. In that initiative I look at what it means to be a good person, team, community, region, company, country, and a good world. In exploring what it means to be a good person, I wandered into trying to understand what the “good life” was. As part of that investigation I explored the concept of happiness. One would think that happiness would be a big part of a good life. It didn’t take long before I discovered that happiness was not the most appropriate word. One can be happy doing things that are not necessarily good for oneself or others. A better concept was well-being – so the search for understanding of the concept well-being soon began.

As part of any quest for understanding, the Internet became a key source of information (as well as some good books). This time I decided to take a slightly different course of action. I decided to try to understand what well-being meant by limiting my searching to stock photo services. What would the pictures from stock photo services illustrate as the meaning of well-being. It turns out well-being has nothing to do with what I thought!

Here were the key findings (as I interpreted them from the images returned by the searches):

  • Apparently well-being is only achievable by women!
  • The women are beautiful, shapely, fit, never wear a lot, are always exercising outdoors, do lots of yoga, running or ball exercises.
  • The women get lots of spa treatments, are by a pool, with extraordinary volume of oils and creams in glass jars.
  • Woman are cooking together, walking on a beach in a tropical desert location, and for some reason doing cartwheels on the beach at sunset
  • The key concepts seem to be health, balance, and meditation
  • There is always a scenic view nearby, an ocean, lots of sand dunes, rocky cliffs, and palm trees
  • Yoga poses a plenty
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly rinsed with water are always nearby
  • The odd Buddha
  • Flat rocks piled on top of each other (turns out these are balanced massage stones – who knew!) with blades of long thin green grasses or flowers floating in water in thin glass dishes. These all seems to be prerequisites to well-being
  • Apparently women are in a state of well-being when the see nearly naked muscular men (the search results do not lie). Oddly enough, a lot of these men are wearing Santa hats – I’m not sure what’s going on there!
  • Clean well-dressed senior couples eating a healthy breakfast
  • Multiple generations of family members.
  • My favorite – well-being is reflected by a picture of tooth paste and a tooth brush
  • Men do reflect well-being by wearing a business suit floating in the air above a busy city skyline (?) or meditating on a grassy field

Some of the more odd images of well-being included:

  • Beautiful woman flossing
  • Stethoscopes
  • Little girl with flu blowing nose in the rain (Just don’t get this one)
  • Computer with an apple on it – representing a healthy workspace (or does well-being require a Mac!)

The one picture that got the most items in the picture was a picture of a girl exercising on the beach with a quiet flat ocean at sunset with palm trees blowing in a slight wind and in the distance to the left is the merging of sand dunes with a small rock face. If only the photgrapher had also captured a spa table nearby with a small table of fruit, creams/oils, massage stones piled high, flowers, pieces of bamboo and long blades of grass, candles and a muscular man with of course a Santa hat!

Now that I got this out of my system, one of my next posts will take a more serious look at well-being. The picture for this post better reflects my interpretation of well-being than any of the pictures described above.


  1. See my colleague Mark’s augmentation of this article at http://www.anielski.com/well-being-like.

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